Statistics from the National Coffee Association suggest that more than 60% of the population drinks at least one cup of coffee daily. Coffee comes in a range of different variants, with cortado and macchiato being among the several options available. While you might know the difference between these two beverages easily if you are from Italy or Spain, some Americans and people from other parts of the world aren’t sure how they differ. If you have seen macchiato and cortado on your local coffee shop’s menu or have seen a macchiato or a cortado at Starbucks and are wondering how the two are different, keeping reading to find out more.
What is Cortado?
What is cortado coffee? Cortado is a Spanish type of coffee. It is a beverage that is a variation of the espresso, combined with milk. In Spanish, ‘cortar’ is a verb that means ‘to cut’. With this drink, the taste and texture of the espresso are ‘cut’ or diluted by adding warm milk. The mixing ratio for a cortado is usually equal parts espresso and milk. Because of this, the flavors of the coffee are usually not as pronounced as they would be with black coffee, which can make it easier to drink for those who don’t like the bitter and acidic taste of plain coffee. Before milk is added to the coffee, it should first be steamed. When it comes to cortado vs latte, the cortado uses much less milk compared to the latte. As a cortado is a modified espresso, the most common type of coffee used is a dark roast, finely ground. What is a mocha cortado? This is just one of the variations of this drink, made by adding chocolate sauce to the espresso.
What is Macchiato?
The macchiato is a coffee drink that originates from Italy, and it has quickly become one of the most popular beverages sold in American coffee shops. Similar to the cortado, the name of this drink indicates what you can expect from it, as the translation from Italian to English is ‘marked’. This means that when making a macchiato, there’s only a small amount of milk added to ‘mark’ the espresso. This results in a small change that tweaks the espresso flavor a little bit, adding a little bit of texture and making the espresso easier to drink. In Italy, a Macchiato is a good choice of coffee for in the afternoon, since in Italian culture, milk-based drinks are usually reserved for in the morning. Like the cortado, a well-brewed cup of espresso is the base for a macchiato, and a finely ground dark roast coffee is usually the best option.
The Main Differences Between the Two
To get a better understanding of the cortado and the macchiato and how the two differ, it’s a good idea to learn more about how certain factors are different including the coffee strength and grind, brewing processes, milk, taste, brewing time, and how they are served.
Coffee Grind and Strength
A dark roasted coffee that has been ground finely will usually work well for both the cortado and the macchiato. While a single shot of espresso is usually pulled for a macchiato, a cortado is served with a double espresso shot. Traditionally, a single shot of espresso is made with around seven grams of fine coffee grounds resulting in a beverage that contains around 30ml of espresso. With a double shot, the ratio is similar, but the amount of coffee and the yield is doubled.
When it comes to the cortado and the macchiato, the brewing process isn’t very different. Both require you to use an espresso machine to pull an espresso shot. You can do this by packing espresso into a portafilter with a tamper, before the machine pushes water through the grounds at a high pressure to create the espresso shot.
When it comes to the brewing time, an espresso machine will take the same amount of time to pull either a single shot or a double shot. As long as you heat the machine up beforehand, you will usually wait just twenty to thirty seconds for the espresso to brew. How long the machine needs to heat up will depend on the make and model of the espresso maker you use.
The milk used is the main difference between the macchiato and the cortado. A cortado is espresso with steamed milk added, while a macchiato has a dash of frothy or foamy milk added. Both beverages can also work well with milk alternatives like oat milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. However, it’s a good idea to experiment and practice with preparing these milk alternatives before adding them to your espresso as some might be more susceptible to curdling if the heat is too high. With a cortado, there is a 1:1 ratio of milk to coffee, while a macchiato only needs a small dash of frothy milk.
When it comes to the taste, it’s important to remember that the macchiato will not be as diluted as the cortado. Because of this, while it is milder in comparison to a plain espresso, you will still get a strong flavor of the coffee and its acidity. On the other hand, since the cortado uses more milk, you will get a coffee drink that is smoother, creamier, and less intense.
When it comes to how you serve each type of coffee, the options mirror the portion differences between these two coffee drinks. A macchiato will be served in a demitasse cup similar to an espresso. On the other hand, a cortado class is used to serve the cortado. These look similar to the tall glasses that you might find for gin and tonic drinks at a cocktail bar.
How to Make a Cortado
If you are interested in trying a cortado and want to know how to make cortado, then this cortado recipe is a good place to start. Otherwise, you can always search for cortado near me and find it at a local coffee shop.
1. Brew the Espresso
Begin by pulling a double shot of espresso. You can do this with many coffee makers or home tools; however, an espresso machine is the best option if you have one. Choose dark roast coffee that has been finely ground ready for espresso.
2. Heat the Milk
If you have an espresso machine with a steam wand, you can simply use this to steam your milk. If not, then you can use a milk frother or even heat up milk in the microwave in a mason jar after shaking it for frothy milk suitable for this beverage. You will only need around 2oz of milk for the drink; however, steam more if you’re using a steam wand, so that it doesn’t burn. You can use any type of milk that you like including dairy free alternatives if you prefer.
3. Pour the Coffee
Pour your double shot of espresso into a small cup or a cortado glass. You can use any cup that you like, but make sure that it has enough capacity for both the espresso and the milk.
4. Add the Milk
Once you’ve added the espresso, pour the milk in until there is an equal amount of both coffee and milk. If you want to be exact, you can use a measuring cup.
Once you have a 1:1 ratio of coffee and milk, your cortado is ready to serve and enjoy.
How to Make a Macchiato at Home
If you want to try a macchiato, this is a simple recipe that you can try making at home.
1. Brew the Espresso
Using an espresso machine or pod machine that brews espresso, brew a single espresso shot. To make espresso with an espresso machine, you will need a dark roast coffee that has been finely ground to a powder-like consistency.
2. Heat the Milk
Next, heat the milk in a jug with a steam wand by ensuring that the tip of the steam wand is placed just under the surface of the milk, to get milk that is texturized and frothy. Alternatively, you can use a milk frother.
3. Pour the Coffee
If your shot isn’t already pulled into an espresso glass or demitasse cup, transfer it to one.
4. Add the Milk
Swirl the frothy milk gently before pouring to get rid of any air bubbles that may have collected. Tapping the mug gently on a hard surface like your countertop can also work to get rid of stubborn bubbles. Then, pour a little bit of milk onto the surface of your espresso shot.
Once you’ve added the milk, your macchiato is ready to enjoy. Sip it or drink it as a shot for an energy boost.
Many people like espresso but need to add some milk to their drink to take the edge off the bitter and acidic taste of the plain coffee. Making either a cortado or a macchiato can be a great way to do this. Both are espresso-based drinks using either a single or a double shot of espresso. More milk is added to the cortado with a 1:1 ratio, while the macchiato is made with just a small dash of frothy milk.